GLASGOW, Del — The Glass Kitchen, a well-known dining spot in Glasgow for more than 60 years, met its final end this week when a demolition crew tore down the building that sits between the northbound and southbound lanes of U.S. 40.
The demolition will make way for an Autobell Car Wash on a portion of the 2.1-acre property at 2466 Pulaski Highway. A second tenant may be added later.
Owner Scott Cochran told the New Castle County Historic Review Board in 2019 that the Glass Kitchen building was “dilapidated and outdated,” with a leaky roof and other issues that were too expensive to repair.
“Our CPA told me personally we should have closed the restaurant three years before we did,” Cochran said. “Very difficult. Hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
The Glass Kitchen was opened in 1952 by Pryor “Pappy” Neuber, who ran a mess hall in the army and dreamed of building a restaurant with a glass enclosed kitchen that would allow patrons to watch their meals being prepared.
In those days before the advent of interstates, Route 40 was a major thoroughfare, and the restaurant quickly became popular with locals and travelers alike.
Charles Schreder took over ownership from Neuber, and he ran it for decades before willing the business to Cochran and two other longtime employees.
Ultimately though, changing consumer habits and increased competition from chain restaurants began to take their toll.
“We dealt with an older cliental that had to choose between prescription drugs and whether they were going out to eat or whether they were putting gas in their car,” Cochran said. “As time moved on, it became more and more difficult. We couldn’t raise prices because of sticker shock, and we couldn’t advertise to compete with the national and regional chains.”
The restaurant added breakfast offerings and expanded its hours, but it wasn’t enough to increase profitability. In its last year, the Glass Kitchen was losing upward of $8,000 a month, and Cochran even took out a loan to meet payroll in an effort to keep the restaurant afloat.
Eventually, mounting losses and the need for expensive renovations forced the closure of the restaurant in March 2019.
As a condition of approval for demolition of the historic structure, Cochran contracted with the University of Delaware to conduct historic documentation of the building. He also agreed to donate archival documents such as menus and flyers to the Delaware Public Archives.